How Will New FDA Tobacco Regulations Affect Your Smoke and Vape Shop?
As of April 14, 2022, companies that manufacture, distribute, import or sell products containing non-tobacco nicotine (NTN) must be authorized by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). The new Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) requires the FDA to review and approve all products not derived from tobacco, including synthetic nicotine. These new Tobacco Product Regulations will be vigorously enforced, according to FDA representatives.
FDA further noted that companies already involved in NTN product distribution must file premarket applications on or before May 14, 2022. Federal officials advise smoke and vape shop owners to review FD&C Act guidelines and take the following additional precautions.
FDA Tobacco Regulations strictly prohibit NTN product sales, either in person or online, to persons under 21 years of age. After seeing a steady decline in adult-age smokers over the last two decades, FDA officials are now concerned that NTN products may be reversing this trend. Researchers attribute savvy marketing, added fruit flavors and widespread appeal of smokeless tobacco to vaping’s growing popularity among young people. Youthful and adult adoption rates sharply contrast, according to research by the American Lung Association, which shows adult smoking declined from 21.6 percent in 2003 to 14 percent in 2019. However, close to 4.5 million young people used tobacco products in 2020, and more than 2 million high school and middle school students tried e-cigarettes by 2021, according to a recent report by CNN.
It’s critical to protect yourself and your smoke and vape shop employees and customers by ensuring all NTN sales are made to legal-age customers. One proven way to mitigate risk is to add age verification software to your technology stack. Relying on artificial intelligence and real-time data will help to quickly approve or restrict a sale and is more effective than employee guesswork. When integrated with a smart Tobacco POS System, age verification will swiftly confirm and process legitimate NTN sales while capturing valuable customer data and delivering a seamless checkout experience.
Marketing and Distribution Restrictions
If you sell modified risk tobacco products (MRTPs), it’s important to obtain FDA authorization on all MRTPs in your inventory and closely monitor the ways in which these products are marketed, stored, and distributed. FDA expressly forbids distributing free MRTP samples and will also remove unauthorized and non-compliant products from your warehouse that fail to meet FD&C Act criteria.
When you submit your MRTP application to the FDA, officials will consider potential health risks and benefits of your MRTP products, including a product’s risk of creating dependence or any potentially positive benefit, such as switching a tobacco user to a less harmful, non-tobacco product. Once the FDA authorizes your products, it’s critical to closely monitor inventories and distribution to ensure that you and your staff are following FD&C Act guidance. Adding an integrated management system to your Tobacco Store POS can help your employees keep track of MRTP inventory levels as well as items that need to be removed or replaced as the FD&C Act guidelines continue to develop.
Staying Current, Compliant
The FD&C Act was put in place due to public and private sector unease about community safety and concerns that Vape manufacturers were switching to synthetic nicotine products in an effort to circumvent FDA Tobacco Product Regulation. To address these concerns, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) introduced the Clarifying Authority Over Nicotine Act in December 2021, to ensure all nicotine products fall under FDA oversight.
Noting the bipartisan-backed bill would promote FDA supervision of both tobacco and non-tobacco nicotine products, Sherrill suggested it would discourage vape manufacturers from harmful practices, such as targeting young people. “This bill will ensure all tobacco products, including products made with synthetic nicotine, are regulated by the FDA in order to protect kids in our communities and those who may seek to use these products,” she said.
As FDA Tobacco Regulations continue to evolve, implementing a Tobacco Store POS will help keep your vape and smoke shop owners up to date and compliant with federal guidelines. These intelligent systems can help smoke and vape shop owners maintain compliance and industry best practices while delivering an excellent guest experience. In addition to facilitating real-time inventory management and age ID verification, these systems are purpose-built for your industry with built-in software updates to keep you apprised of ever-changing FDA regulations and oversight, and features and benefits designed to help you run your business and drive operational efficiencies and revenue for years to come.